Here’s a general, unbacked statement:
There exists a terrifying gap between dreamers and able-to-doers.
Which isn’t to say that all dreamers are not-doers, or that all doers are no longer dreamers, but rather that there are a lot of dreamers who can’t pursue their dreams, or are told they can’t achieve them, and by the time those dreamers become doers, they’ve had all their dreams beaten out of them by society, which tells them that dreams are pointless. And so we have a wealth of dreamers who cannot do, and a plethora of doers who cannot dream—and that is, as I explained earlier, terrifying.
Try to think back to the last time you truly thought outside the box. What did you dream of? Flying? Going to Mars? Eradicating poverty? Solving world hunger? Changing the course of climate change? How to bleach your hair without killing it?
When you told other people about your dreams, how did people react? Were they supportive? Or were they like the “adults” in my life, who smiled condescendingly and said:
“That’s nice, but you should also have some realistic goals. Leave saving the world for when you’re older,”
in that parsimoniously detached tone of voice that makes you want to scream? Did you believe them?
Don’t believe them. Young people, the ablest dreamers, should be pursuing their dreams when they’re having them, and they should be given the tools to do so in the here and now, not in some distant, undefined future, when the burdens and stresses of adult-life weigh you down and dreams suddenly seem more out of reach than ever.
Instead of dissuading them, we should be enabling young people to pursue those dreams, because that opportunity is one that is too often passed over.
That’s the opportunity that AIESEC gave to me.
June 2015, I set out on an epic journey to Antalya, Turkey, to teach English to high school students. I wasn’t alone in this journey. I had the AIESECers in Turkey to support me, as well as the twenty-odd other volunteers who were also working on this project with me. Even so, it was a tremendous amount of responsibility, something that I thankfully didn’t realize until much later—thankfully, because if I had realized it, I probably would have been scared out of my wits.
In Antalya, we taught English to about 250 students—two 2-week long classes, each with 125 students. The classes weren’t groundbreaking, or perhaps, I’ve simply gotten used to the groundbreaking. It consisted of country presentations from each of the interns, almost all of whom were from different countries, and also of 5-person “speaking clubs” where each intern got to talk with students in a more intimate setting. Like I said, nothing groundbreaking. Except, it sort of was; almost all of the students had never traveled outside of the country, and the ones that did went to visit family. This was their first encounter with students, teenagers like themselves, from Pakistan, Canada, Kuwait, Jordan, Algeria, America, Australia, Ukraine, Hungary, China, India…the list goes on. It was their first opportunity to really interact with the world on a global scale. And, like it or not, each of us interns were representing the countries we came from. *Cue hyperventilation*
It’s certainly a stretch of the imagination to say that I single-handedly tackled education inequality during my time in Turkey. But it’s less of a stretch to say that AIESEC has tackled education inequality, because my experience was only one of several thousand that AIESEC has run.
And that’s the youth empowerment that AIESEC offers—the promise that rational, long-term change is possible through the contributions of young people. That our dreams of education equality, opportunity equality, solving climate change—that all these dreams and more are not only achievable, but achievable by young people, right now. AIESEC is the promise that young people can and should be trusted to solve the world’s problems.
So if you’re a young person reading this, and you have a crazy dream you want to pursue—whether that be a world renowned blogger or videographer or a solver of inequalities around the world—take a step forward, and allow yourself to fall. Take a step towards achieving your passions and dreams. Take a journey outside of yourself. Go abroad with AIESEC.
Tata for now~